Friday, December 2, 2011

The Redbreast - Jo Nesbø

Title: The Redbreast
Author: Jo Nesbø (author's website)
Paperback: 521 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published Date: 2009 (original 2000)
FTC: Received free to review from publisher

Back when I lived in New York, I was invited by Harper Collins to a cool little bar to meet Jo Nesbø.  I had heard about him - a pretty famous crime writer from Norway.  I knew his books were starting to be translated to English and published in the States.  I think Harper did an amazing job with the translation (Don Bartlett) and the covers of the books.

I'd post photos from the event but I'll be honest that I didn't take any.  Sometimes I am hugely silly when it comes to famous people.  I get all nervous and lose my mind.  I will tell you that he was extremely nice, drinks Heineken, and said that it doesn't matter which book you read first but he'd go with The Redbreast.

The Redbreast is the third book in the Harry Hole series but it's the first one published in English.  I honestly don't know why it took me so long to read this book or series.  A long time ago I got interested in the whole Scandinavia crime writing thing.  I had checked out the book Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg.  Unfortunately I only got halfway through by the time I had to return the book but I was hooked.  I actually bought a copy later on and have been meaning to read it.  Anyway -- maybe it's because I used to live in Alaska and the whole Arctic culture is intriguing.  Whatever it is -- I am loving it.  Ok. After that incredibly long intro, here we go...

Back of the book:

Detective Harry Hole embarrassed the force, and for his sins he's been reassigned to mundane surveillance tasks.  But while monitoring neo-Nazi activities in Oslo, Hole is inadvertently drawn into a mystery with deep roots in Norway's dark past -- when members of the nation's government willingly collaborated with Nazi Germany.  More than sixty years later, this black mark won't wash away, and disgraced old soldiers who once survived a brutal Russian winter are being murdered, one by one.  Now, with only a stained and guilty conscience to guide him, an angry, alcoholic, error-prone policeman must make his way safely past the traps and mirrors of a twisted criminal mind.  For a hideous conspiracy is rapidly taking shape around Hole -- and Norway's darkest hour may still be to come.

My thoughts:

I ended up really liking this book and want to read more of the series.  But there are some things you must know going into it.

1) Detective Harry Hole -- Ok.  I can't be the only one who sniggered at the chosen name of the detective.  Whether it was something lost in translation or is meant to be funny, just go with it and smile.

2) It's a deceiving chunkster.  While it looks like a normal paperback, it is on my list as a chunkster at a good 521 pages.

3) It took me a little bit to get into the book.  I'll admit that.  While the writing is awesome, it took me a little bit to get into the story.  But once I did I was hooked.

4) I love WWII stories, so for me this was a fascinating look at Norway's involvement during WWII.  Again, this is another story which really rams home the idea that WWII did not just affect that one generation but is still having ramifications on subsequent generations and events.  I obviously think that it's more apparent in Europe and places where the fighting happened on their own soil rather than here in the USA.  The story has chapters interspersed with a character in WWII and I loved those.  It's a great writer who can make me like both the present day story AND the flashback story.  Bravo.

5) The "present day" story takes place in 1999 -- which is when Nesbø wrote the story.  I find it odd that while 1999 doesn't seem that far in the past to me (that's the year I graduated high school) how much the world has changed.

And more...

I have two more Nesbø books, Nemesis and The Devil's Star, on my shelf to read and I definitely want to get into them.

 I've been ogling the newest books in the series - especially The Snowman and The Leopard on Kirkus Reviews.

While I still haven't read the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson -- I would assume that if you are a fan of Larsson's works, you'd appreciate Jo Nesbø's series.

I also found some alternate covers for The Redbreast.  I prefer my edition above but what are your thoughts?

Also Reviewed by:
Linus's Blanket  (She was at the HarperCollins event as well.  Awesome blogger.)

About Jo Nesbø:
Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover  found out she loves Nesbø's books
Bookfinds found an awesome article and photo of Nesbø's bookshelves
Check out Nesbø's author website - very cool

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